As the `second city of empire', Liverpool and the surrounding region played a pivotal role in the First World War. Even before the conflict, almost a third of all the goods that came into the country and the products that were shipped overseas passed through the port. During the First World War, thousands of men from Merseyside served in the military and the Merchant Navy. Many troops, including American forces, disembarked or stayed for a time in the area. Merseyside may not have been on the front line, but it was at the front of the war effort.
Merseyside's War relates the experiences of the people who lived in Merseyside during the war, from farmers on the Wirral Peninsula and landladies in Southport to shipbuilders in Birkenhead and female munitions workers in Bootle. It also captures the fear, excitement and boredom of those who fought in the war in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, or served at sea, in the air or in hospitals. Voices from both the front and the home front may be heard in diaries, newspapers, letters, government records and other documents from the time, as well in memoirs and oral histories.
These varied voices and the accompanying images help us to more fully understand the way the war shaped the perceptions and experiences of the people who lived in England's third-largest city and its hinterland.
Dr Mike Benbough-Jackson is a senior lecturer in History at Liverpool John Moores University. He completed his PhD on the image of Cardiganshire and its inhabitants in modern times at Lampeter University. Since then, Mike has applied his interest in regional identities to Merseyside. His publications include two self-authored books, one jointly edited volume and numerous articles and book chapters on social, cultural and political history during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.